"Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full."
Proverbs 19: 17, The Message
"Heaven's Balance Sheet - I'm Worth What?"
"Poor" - Having little or no money and few or no possessions.
After reading the definition above, how would I define the word "poor?"
"When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice."
Gregory the Great
"Blessed and fortunate is (she) who has regard for the weak and poor; the Lord delivers (her) in times of trouble. The Lord will protect (her) and preserve her life."
Psalm 41: 1, Amplified Bible
She walked into the Temple to the treasury box. Some might say her gift was so small, it was meaningless. Jesus said her gift was so big it was worth more than anything, anybody else gave.
As this woman, the Bible calls poverty-stricken, slipped out of the Temple, I've often wondered, "Did anyone step up to love and help this lady?"
In our studies during the next few days, we will look at 4 specific reasons the crowd around Jesus, including His disciples, put so little value on the widow in the temple and her gift of two mites.
The four strikes against the poor widow were poverty, gender, marital status and age. Four strikes that still affect how women are treated today. I wish I could tell you life has improved since Jesus was on the earth, but for many women in our world, living each day is a critical challenge. You'd think we would have listened to Jesus' teachings and followed His path, but sadly, most of the time we give only lip-service to the way Jesus has called us to walk.
The first strike we notice in the life of this woman was that she was poor. During the time of Jesus' life on earth, poverty, in the culture, was associated with a lack of God's blessing. The poor were looked upon as were the sick--cursed by God. If you were rich - you were considered to be highly favoured by heaven.
If ever there was a belief system that Jesus challenged it was the idea that the poor were cursed and the rich blessed. In fact, in Jesus' kingdom, wealth was given for one reason - to be shared. Over and over again Jesus spoke against hoarding your money and keeping it to "increase your barns." In the early Christian church in the book of Acts, we find revealed in the lives of all the followers of Jesus, such a concern for the financial welfare of one another that this is the way the Bible describes the love they shared: "Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything they possessed was exclusively their own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all" (Acts 4: 32, Amplified).
I looked up the word "everything," which is translated "all," to see if it means what I thought it did. It actually means, in Greek, more than I thought. This word comes from the Greek word "hapos" as a particle of union, meaning "absolutely all," a complete whole. Everything means every particle, everything they had, not a particle was broken off.
This was no economic program where wealth at the top trickled down to the poor on the bottom of the heap. It wasn't some gushing spring that gave me all the water I needed and wanted and then passed a drip down to everyone else.
And guess what? When this kind of generosity permeated the hearts of everyone, big things happened, for we are told God's power rained down buckets of blessings.
"And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace and favor and goodwill rested richly upon them all. (There's that word again! Everybody was blessed!) Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them."
Acts 4: 33-34, Amplified Bible
People sold land and homes. People shared and cared. Not lip-service but pocket-service.
And why did so many people on the outside decide to believe what Jesus' followers - men and women - were saying? Because their practical lives matched their personal words. If they talked Jesus' talk …they knew they must walk Jesus' walk!
Lucretia Mott writes, "Systems by which the rich are made richer, and the poor poorer, should find no favor among people professing to "fear God and hate covetousness."
As Jesus watched a poor woman give two mites, He said to those who were listening: "Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living" (Mark 12: 43,44, K.J.V.). Someone appropriately wrote: "It's not how much you've given, but how much you've kept, that really matters." As the Scripture reminds us: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35, K.J.V.).
"You are never more like God,
than when you give."
"We're richer when we give,
and poorer when we keep."
"Christ, let me see You in others.
Christ, let others see You in me.
Christ, let me see:
You are the caller
You are the poor
You are the stranger at my door.
You are the wanderer
You are the homeless
With no bed.
You are the man
You are the child
Crying in pain.
You are the other who comes to me
Open my eyes that I may see.
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.